SVSU earns $2.8 million grant to fight opioid abuse

Published: Jul. 23, 2019 at 6:18 PM EDT
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(07/23/19) - Saginaw Valley State University is taking a new approach to fighting the opioid epidemic.

A federal grant will allow the university to better equip health care providers with the right tools.

"The fact of the matter is, is people are dying, okay," said SVSU's Harvey Randall Wickes Endowed Chair in Nursing Kathleen Schachman. "Families and communities are really suffering, they're being really devastated by this opioid crisis."

SVSU is receiving a $2.8 million grant from Health Resources and Services Administration, which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Over a four year period, the money will be used educate 100 nurse practitioners who are in the university's psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner post-graduate certificate program.

"We really need to, to beef up our workforce in mental health and substance use disorder and this is the way the federal government is helping us to do that," Schachman said.

Grant money will allow SVSU to offer program participants a stipend to lower tuition, ultimately allowing them to focus more on their education than work obligations.

The university also is creating an academic clinical partnership with Recovery Pathways to add hands-on learning to the program.

Schachman said there aren't enough health care providers who focus on substance use and mental health issues. "It is a population that really needs specialized services, with really a lack of people to be able to deliver that."

The grant will focus on educating nurse practitioners who come from rural locations, and may already be seeing patients in their primary care offices. "In rural areas where there are no specialists to help you, you really are on those front lines," Schachman said.

Schachman added that right now more people are dying from overdoses in rural locations, than urban areas.

Even if those people do reach out for help, the services may be limited.

"Their wait to see someone is several months, and even then they have to travel over a hundred miles, and in the meantime they may die," Schachman said.